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Tips for Caregivers

Family Matters - Summer 2010

C.A.N. Workshops ... Caregivers Advocating and Navigating

Caregivers can also be advocates for themselves, as was recently the case when parents approached child life specialists, nurses and others in the Children’s Cancer Hospital and requested their own educational classes.

The idea was taken to the Family Advisory Council, who approved the concept, and a survey was taken of parents to develop topics for the new workshops. Then the Children’s Cancer Hospital education program joined the team to make the new effort a collaborative program. After a year of planning, a new program called Caregivers Advocating and Navigating, or C.A.N., was developed.

Workshops began in January 2010 and have continued monthly. Topics have ranged from ways to deal with a cancer diagnosis to ways to help the caregiver. Since January, the workshops have covered:

  • siblings and how they see cancer treatment for their brothers or sisters
  • school after cancer treatment
  • techniques to help young patients cope with medical procedures, and
  • self-care for caregivers.

Upcoming sessions will tackle adolescent and young adult patients, school choices, living with an amputation and learning about school re-entry.

C.A.N. is coordinated by a multidisciplinary committee of child life and education specialists. They work to keep the ratio of staff to parents low so that the parents feel free to express personal issues and problems. The committee also plans the workshops and anticipates sending out another survey to get additional workshop topics.

Thuy Trinh, a child life specialist and member of the C.A.N. committee, says that response to the workshops has been favorable. Parents have appreciated receiving the information and enjoyed the time together. As one parent says, “This was such a wonderful experience. To help parents themselves as well as their sick children touches my heart.”

To learn more about the C.A.N. workshops, contact Thuy Trinh at 713-792-5170.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center